A Rider’s Bucket List

What horse-related activities do you want to try at least once in your life?

The Horse Illustrated staff's bucket list- how does yours look?
Photo: iStock

The movie The Bucket List follows two terminally ill men (played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who embark on a journey with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.” Here’s our equestrian version of a bucket list—25 ultimate things to experience in a lifetime as a horse lover. What’s on your list?

  1. Gallop on the beach.
  2. Win a blue ribbon, even if it’s for the egg and spoon race!
  3. Enjoy an evening of equestrian theater, from major touring productions such as Cavalia to local performance troupes.
  4. Try your hand at cattle work. Find out what it means when they say a horse is “cowy.”
  5. Jump! From crossrails to cross-country obstacles, experience the thrill of soaring over fences.
  6. Fall off and get right back on again. Conquering fear is empowering.
  7. See the majestic white Lipizzan stallions at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
  8. Come to a sliding stop on a well-trained reining horse.
  9. Take a lesson with your equestrian idol, _________ (you fill in the blank.)
  10. Nurse a horse through a crisis and back to full health.
  11. Experience the smooth ride of a gaited horse.
  12. Watch the horses come through the Head of the Lake on cross-country day at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.
  13. Have the courage to do the right thing for your horse, even when it’s not easy.
  14. Attend the Kentucky Derby dressed to the nines—including hat!
  15. Tackle a trail accessible only by horseback and enjoy the view.
  16. Take your dream vacation on horseback.
  17. Master the sitting trot.
  18. Ride a fine-tuned horse in your discipline of choice, be it dressage schoolmaster or barrel champ.
  19. Watch polo. Even better, try your hand at it!
  20. Feed, muck, groom, ride. Repeat daily.
  21. Wake up to a whinny every morning.
  22. Fly down the track on a Thoroughbred.
  23. Meet one of your favorite famous horses in person.
  24. Ride bareback, bridleless … or both!
  25. Share a bond with your horse that’s deeper than words.

What’s on your equestrian bucket list? Share your thoughts by clicking “Submit a Comment” below.

This article originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe.


  1. when i read, see, or hear something thats really amazing i get goose bumps. and i got goose bumps when i read this list!!!!!! horses are so passinate

  2. I’ve already realized the biggest dream in my life – that of owning horses. The next big thing on my bucket list is to get to First Level Dressage with my PMU mare.

  3. Well, lessee… I’ve done all by 7 (but I did see the REAL SRS on tour in the US), 8, 14, 16 and 21. I’m a boarder, so no morning whinnies, sadly. But less mucking out – although I have, in my day, done PLENTY of that. Haven’t had a lesson with my equestrian idol, but since he’s deceased (Reiner Klimke), I can’t do anything about that.

  4. I am very blessed, I’ve done all but 14, 16, and 22. I wanted to ride the Continental Divide, did that, would like to ride the Grand Canyon yet and ride in Ireland yet. And if folks have the chance to go horse camping, not much is better than that. Maybe the best thing is sitting in my barn on hay bale listening to the contented munching of hay by my four legged equine children.

  5. I have been Blessed as well. I have experienced most of the Bucket List. This year I accomplished #23. I met Curlin, at Lane’s End in Kentucky. I pray everyone gets the opportunity to fullfill their Bucket List as well. My favorites are # 20, 21 & 25! Merry Christmas to Everyone 🙂

  6. Wake up in the morning to the sounds of hooves coming down the granite.
    Swim across a shallow mountain lake astride your favorite horse.
    Breathe the warm sweet breath coming from the nostrils of your horse.
    Lie in the deep grass of a high mountain meadow next to your grazing horse.

  7. I have a long way to go on this, I’ve only done 6, 10, 17. I’ve ridden a reserve world champion western pleasure horse and that’s good enough for me… He’s amazing… #25 is next on my list, I’m really trying to get that one this year.

  8. Add to the list do every water bucket in your whole barn by your self. Also, not flinching when a horse snaps at you.

  9. I would want to help children with special needs learn to ride and befriend horses. I hope this would help share my joy of horses and ponies. I would also want to volunteer at a stable with rescue horses because I could help the poor horses have a brighter future!

  10. I would LOVE to be a profesional barrel racer! Or at least to be involved in riding in a rodeo. i love rodeos! i think it would be cool to see what its like to see a one from the back of a horse instead of the wooden bleachers!

  11. My heart’s desire is to board my horse in Yosemite Valley for a week in the fall and ride all the trails, spend time in the meadows and crossing the river. Then I would love to swim with my horse. Next on the list would be a cattle drive.

  12. 1. Own Marawari and a Morgan
    2. Attend the Knie Circus in Switzerland (they do great horse stunts)
    3. Be limber enough to do my own equine vaulting!

  13. The top thing on my equestrian bucket list would be too have a bond so strong with my horse that it can never be broken.

  14. I want to fly down the beach. I’ve always wanted to do that. I also want to go on a swim in the pretty Oregon water.

  15. I would love nothing more than to take my partner on a great adventure through America’s beautiful mountains, valleys, and forests. I think he would love riding through unspoiled nature as much as I would!

  16. At the top of my bucket list is something very specific and a little complicated. I want to own my own horse in my own small barn. Then, I’ll take my favorite horse camping. We’d go to a nice, private place for about a day. We’d go for a bareback swim, and embark on a trail ride.

  17. My bucket list includes things like train under Chris Cox, take a vacation in the mountains, learn to be comfortable at the canter, but first and foremost, develop that special relationship with my new horse that I had with my first horse. We’re working on it but it’s not there yet.

  18. I want to have a horse of my own and gallop the beach bareback,jump as high as i can in hunter jumper and make memories that will last a lifetime.

  19. I want to not only watch horses and riders come through the Head of the Lake on cross country day at Rolex Kentucky, but also be one of the riders coming through.

  20. Someday I would love to gallop down the beach at dusk on my mare bareback. It would be one of my biggest dreams come true!

  21. Probably the biggest thing that would be on my bucket list would be to get a horse. Wether it is a rescue horse or a four star event horse i just want one that i can call my own!

  22. It’s on my bucket list to try every discipline out there. Since there are so many out there, I might not be able to get all of them in one lifetime, but I will sure try!

  23. I want to rescue a few senior or terminally ill horses so they can live out the rest of their lives in a loving home. I also want to go to Spain and ride an Andalusian through the countryside. Someday it would be cool of I could own at least one Friesian, Andalusian, Lusitano, Gypsy Vanner, Knabstrupper, or some other really fancy and beautiful breeds. Last but not least, I want to find my horsey soul mate. The one horse that I connect to perfectly. Just like a spouse is “the one”. I want to find the horse that’s “the one” for me.

  24. heres another good one, the trust fall. ride bareback with a friend and almost fall off and have your friend(s) catch you and help you back up. (try not to do this with a saddle because your foot could get stuck in the stirrip. ) i have actually done this before, on accident and i was caught by my cousin. be careful and for beginners have someone else hold the horses.

  25. i would love to ride Sweet Pea bareback and bridleless on the beach, like i’ve seen a Parelli “person” do that once on a Parelli DVD and it sent shivers up my spine!!!
    my second best would be to live ona working cow ranch :~)!
    my third best would be to go to vienna, austria and watch the Lippazanners dance :~) ooooh….wishful thinking!!!

  26. I would love to gallop bareback and bridle less in a grassy field like so many movies show, do barrels, vault, go see the Lipizzaners, and train a horse from birth.

  27. My bucket list just got longer after seeing your list.
    1. Ride my horse in the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean. Guess thats 3 of them.
    2 ride in the Great Lakes.
    Ridee at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, down through the river, where the Indians camped.
    3. Ride my horse across the country.
    4. Buy a boulnonnais stallion, and some mares to breed, then make up a six horse hitch.
    5. Go to the Kentucky Derby.
    6. Tour the European stud farms.

    7. Go to the Spanish Riding School.

  28. Go on a wagon train trail ride on my horse driving cattle or horses across the plains. I was just sharing this dream with family this past weekend!!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here